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Polititian calls mutual release of convicts a new stage in Russia-Ukraine relations

June 15, 16:37 UTC+3 MINSK
On June 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned by his decrees Ukrainian citizens Gennadiy Afanasyev and Yuri Soloshenko
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Viktor Medvedchuk

Viktor Medvedchuk

© Alexey Druzhinin/TASS

MINSK, June 15. /TASS/. The leader of the Ukrainian Choice civic movement Viktor Medvedchuk believes that the mutual release of convicts by Russia and Ukraine marks the beginning of a new stage in their bilateral relations.

"I assess this as a stage, which can make a fresh start in relations between Russia and Ukraine," he said in an interview to the Rossiya 24 TV channel on Wednesday. "This is a continuation of strategic actions in the humanitarian field after the release of Savchenko, after the release of two Russian citizens in Ukraine," he said. "I think that these steps may determine a new stage in relations between Russia and Ukraine, which both countries, I firmly believe, need."

He added that "the exchange has been made possible as a result of actions by the authorities of the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the humanitarian sphere."

On June 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned by his decrees Ukrainian citizens Gennadiy Afanasyev and Yuri Soloshenko who had been convicted earlier in Russia for terrorism and spying. They were sent to Kiev. On the same day, released from custody Ukrainian journalists Vitaly Didenko and Yelena Glishchinskaya who were charged in Ukraine with separatism in connection with their participation in the work of the so-called People's Council of Bessarabia, arrived in Moscow.

The Kremlin administration said that the release of Didenko and Glishchinskaya "has become possible thanks to the active actions and mediation" of Viktor Medvedchuk.

Yelena Glishchinskaya, director of the Odessa-based Svobodnaya Volna (Free Wave) regional TV and radio company, was charged by the Ukrainian authorities with separatism and treason, facing, according to the Criminal Code of Ukraine, an imprisonment term of 12 to 15 years. She was an activist of the People's Rada of Bessarabia public movement, the declared goal of which was to protect the interests of national minorities of the Odessa region (Gagauz, Bulgarians, Moldovans and other nations), which, according to the movement, were infringed by the central authorities. Three Ukrainian citizens from among the movement’s organizers were arrested.

Vitaly Didenko, the editor-in-chief of the Odessa city Information Center website, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

The third convict in the case of the People's Rada of Bessarabia journalist Artem Buzila was released in March 2016.

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